GRAND TOUR – DAY 4
Breakfast was excellent today from a modern Indian place near my hotel.
I am staying at the Tune Hotel in Danga Bay, Johor Bahru. Tune Hotels are part of the AirAsia group (Malaysia’s low cost airline) and they extend the same budget philosophy to the hotel, i.e. you get a low cost room and pay extra for all the frills like air-conditioning, TV, hair dryer and WiFi. I quite like the concept, in that you get a very clean and comfortable room at a cheap price but it is annoying when your pre-purchased allocation of TV runs out. As I write this I have only 2 hours and 51 minutes of air-conditioning remaining.
Danga Bay is a new development on reclaimed land. It is an up and coming area – the trouble is that it hasn’t really up and come yet so most of the shops and offices near the Tune remain empty. It’s also quite a long way from JB’s city centre as I know from personal experience having walked miles to get there today on pedestrian unfriendly roads. Still, I’m glad I made the effort as there are quite a few interesting sites to see in JB, particularly if you like history and heritage.
Adjoining the Muslim Cemetery on Jalan Mahmodiah is the Royal Mausoleum (the State of Johor is headed by a Sultan).
The Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque is one of the nicest looking mosques I have seen anywhere (and I have seen quite a few over the years). It is a combination of British Colonial and Moorish architecture and sits on a hill looking over the Straits of Johor towards Singapore.
Across the street is the Johor Zoo, a compact old-style zoo with all the kids’ favourites and an admission price of just RM2 for adults and RM1 for children.
The next building is one of the symbols of JB, the Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim on Bukit Timbalan. It used to be the State Secretariat until recently when the state government offices were relocated to Kota Iskandar. It was the tallest building in Malaya until independence.
The Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museum or Tiong Hua Museum provides an insight into the history, occupations and lives of the different Chinese communities who have made JB their home. A group of students outside the museum seemed to be very excited to see me!
The Johor Bahru City Council have produced a Johor Heritage Trail and I was able to pick up a map of it on this street and follow their footsteps.
The trail took me past the old police station which was built in 1914 in what used to be the seediest part of town. Today it seems to be surrounded by flyovers, including the approach road to the Causeway to Singapore. Then I went on to the old railway station built in 1930.
On Jalan Trus, there are places of worship for the Chinese, Hindu and Sikh populations.
I visited quite a number of other places too but I had better stop now and try to get to sleep before my air-conditioning gets cut off.